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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

She ate spaghetti sauce!

A lot of you are probably reading the headline and thinking...ok...what's the big deal?  Well, if you knew how difficult meal time is in my house, you would appreciate my surprise and joy when my oldest daughter asked for spaghetti sauce on her noodles last night.  Then, my younger daughter asked for some too!  Then, imagine how I felt when they both ATE it and liked it!  Oooh, the elation and joy!! 

Ok, so some of you are thinking...this mom has lost's just spaghetti sauce!  Just spaghetti sauce you say? 

Allow me to give you some background...

I have two, possibly three picky eaters in my house.  The range of picky-ness (is that even a word?) is across the board.  My husband is the least picky and the easiest to please.  Really, if I stay away from mushrooms, cooked tomatoes, and anything really spicy, he's happy.  My youngest daughter is m ore adventurous in her eating - she will try most anything at least once.  She is somewhere in the middle on the picky-ness scale.  I mean, what kid doesn't like peanut butter and jelly??  Not her! 

My oldest daughter is the most challenging.  Since she was an infant, she has given me fits where food is concerned.  She wouldn't nurse, no matter what we tried.  I saw three lactation consultants and we tried everything.  I pumped for 6 months, but finally the amount of formula was outweighing the amount of breast milk she was getting, so she was on formula after six months.  When it came time for baby food, she was so difficult.  I followed what the doctor told me, but it didn't seem to matter what went into her mouth, she screwed up her face and clearly didn't like it.  When she had had enough, the lips closed and that was it. 

Ok, fast forward to today - she is going to be 11 years old in August.  The list of things she likes can fit onto a playing card size piece of paper if I write small.  Yes, that's it.  Imagine trying to come up with meals that she will eat!  Meal time is not my favorite time of day to say the least.

Now I will say that breakfast is pretty good - she eats Grape Nuts with organic milk, orange juice, and her vitamins.  Not too shabby.  I can live with that.  Lunch and dinner get real interesting though.  Let's just say that there are times I have ended up in tears and told my entire family to hit the Subway up the street because I can't stand to cook another meal no one wants to eat. 

There were a few years there when I made up to three separate meals in a desperate attempt to make sure everyone had some thing they liked and would eat.  I stopped doing that a while back, but still I try to present at least one thing on the table that each person in my family likes and will consume.  It's tricky sometimes.  There have been days when I have wandered the grocery store, praying that the Lord will show me what to buy, show me what to make for these three people I love so much.  I have wandered the grocery store for a few hours sometimes just hoping that something would "jump out" at me.  Ugh...

The spaghetti sauce was a huge thing!  She has been eating plain spaghetti noodles with butter and salt for years now.  She tried the sauce back a few years ago and drank it down with water as fast as she could.  But last night, she ate almost the whole serving!  Hey, we aren't members of the clean plate club here unless there was truly very little on the plate to begin with, so I was thrilled she ate 1/2 of what I gave her.  She also tried a cucumber slice and a piece of celery last night!  Believe me, it was all I could do not to jump up and down and cheer!  The doctor tells me I need to stay calm and not make a big deal out of food and eating in front of my daughter.  Ok, ok...but I am going to say it here - "whoopee!!!"

I know that the trend may not last.  She may not eat those foods ever again.  But last night, she did.  Last night I felt like I had fed my family the way they should be fed.  I felt successful in giving them the healthy foods their bodies need.  I haven't felt that way in years...except for a few days here and there.  It's discouraging to say the least to feel like no matter what you put on the table will not be received well and probably not eaten.  We are trying to teach the girls that no matter what is on the table, they need to be thankful.  Their attitudes have gotten better and for that we are thankful.  Hopefully with time and continued teaching, it will get even better. 

Hey, maybe the girls will try my tilapia and baked zucchini today!  Yeah, right, ok, now I am officially crazy.  I have to keep reminding steps...

Now you know...I'm a little nuts.  But that's ok.  There's a little bit of being nuts in all of us...we just have to admit it.  (big smile)

Anyone else out there with picky eaters?  How are you handling it in your house?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  

All my best to you today,


Karen said...

Oh, I can so relate! I've got one boy who will eat just about anything. But, my oldest son will eat almost nothing (unless it's sugary, snacky...aka not good for him). It IS frustrating. I also wonder why I bother to prepare meals that don't get eaten. I keep thinking that someday he'll be a food connoiseur. For now I stock up on the peanut butter.

Susan said...

I am not alone! Oh Karen, I too stock up on the peanut butter, at least for three of us. :)

jen said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog today. I'm happy I found your little corner of the world!
Picky eaters are not my challenge, sorry. But be grateful for the little successes, as I can see you are.

Heather said...

Oh Susan - I had no idea you had such a struggle at the table. I rejoice in your small victory and pray it will open new avenues of food adventures for your family!
My friend has the same problems with all three of her boys, and I just despair when they come for a week long visit. What I have resorted to for them is to just plan a simple healthy menu and lay it out buffet style so they can choose their meal and leave it at that. By the third day or so of watching our kids enjoy their meal they are so hungry that they will eat anything I put out! They actually really like everything they try and by the last day I have to cook a whole lot more! I am afraid with those boys it is just because they have not been consistently disciplined, never been exposed to a wide variety of foods, and have never been really hungry because they always have cookies and brownies to fill up on (my friend loves to bake!)

Our children have been through seasons of pickiness, but they never last long. We always require a 'thank you portion' of every food served and have since day one. Unless it is something that makes the child truly gag, they can eat it. Each child has one or two 'gag' foods that they don't have to try anymore (since dinner is pretty much over when someone looses it on their plate!) Usually it is a texture issue - quiche and egg salad for one child and cooked green beans and rice for the other.

Every other 'thank-you portion' must be eaten or it will be re-served at the next meal, and the next and the next ... They have learned that it is usually better to just eat the bite and get it over with the first time they see it - no fussing allowed or they get a double portion! 'Thank-you portions' are how our kids learned to like brussels sprouts, asparagus, and rutabaga. I know some people think this is too tough, but you know that we are gentle and loving but firm with our children. We don't allow pickiness to disrupt the harmony of our family dinner table.

We used to have a few meltdowns, but that simply means that child no longer has the privilege of being with the rest of the family and they are immediately trucked off to bed with no listening to tapes, reading books, talking or playing. One child had to test this theory a few times but discovered how long and boring an evening without family can be and decided that a quick bite wasn't so hard after all - especially since the 'thank you bite' he was trying to avoid just showed up at breakfast anyway!
We deal with leftovers in a similar fashion - every Monday am I clean the fridge and make my plan. I heat up as many leftovers as I think we will consume and lay them out buffet style. We call it the Luscious Leftover Buffet. If we've eaten all the leftovers at lunch, I make 'breakfast for dinner' and that is a huge hit every time!
Getting the kids involved in menu planning and food preparation has been a big help too. There is nothing like taking ownership of a meal to encourage a child to eat. When one child was refusing salads, I made her a 'salad chef', gave her an apron and set her to work! Now she makes more interesting and delicious salads than I do - last week she added blue cheese, toasted almonds and dried cherries to spinach and it was delightful!
I hope these ideas are helpful! Be encouraged - your girls will get through this, and you'll look back and laugh! Keep on introducing a wide variety and they will learn to see the blessing in the bounty of God's provision! After all, He could have made everything taste, feel, smell and look like gruel, but He didn't! Taste and see that the Lord's gifts are good!

Susan said...

Thank you for stopping by! I'm glad you are not experiencing a picky eater in your home. :) I always appreciate anyone who wants to rejoice with me. :)

Heather -
Your ideas are wonderful! I think some of the time I just give up and we end up eating the same things all the time. So I am sure I carry some of the burden of the picky eater syndrome in our home. After almost 11 years, it gets wearisome.

Love, love, the "thank you portion" idea! I'm going to try that. I also like the Luscious Leftover Buffet - that is fantastic!

Thank you Heather for taking such care and time to share with me what has worked in your home.

Blessings to you!

Rachel @ The Cupcake Sprinkles In Life said...

Yay- she ate it!!! :P

You take the little victories and celebrate them as they come along... :)

Since we are vegan/veggie folk here at my house~ each time I try a new recipe my girls look at me like:
"Okay mom, what is it today? Artichoke, pesto and italian seita bbq'ed pizza? What is all of that? I don't think I'll like it..."

*me* "Just try it, if you don't like it- then you'll know for sure"
*kids* " will we still get desert?"
*me* "yes- only if you try it"
*kids* "okay- chomp... hey this is amazing" *me* "told ya!"

Blessings for future meals!!